Federal Arizona Jury Awards $17 Million in Damages from Asbestos Death of a Navy Civilian Employee

On April 22, 2016, a district court jury in Arizona found full damages for the wrongful death of George Coulbourn.  Mr. Coulbourn was a retired civilian employee of the U.S. Navy who was allegedly exposed to asbestos, developing mesothelioma, while working as a shipyard machinist in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia from 1959–66. His duties of repairing and maintaining equipment on naval ships included regular removal of asbestos-containing packing and gaskets on defendant manufacturers’ valves.

Ultimately, the jury awarded $17 million in total damages. First, it awarded $9,000,000 in compensatory damages to the surviving beneficiaries. Moreover, it assessed 20 percent fault to Crane Co., 5 percent to The William Powell Company, 47 percent to the U.S. Navy, and 1 percent to 28 different entities for a total of 100 percent. Finally, it found that the plaintiffs were entitled to punitive damages from Crane Co. and The William Powell Company, finding that Crane Co. must pay $5,000,000 while The William Powell Company must pay $3,000,000.

Read the full decision here.